Archaeological news about the Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe from the Archaeology in Europe web site

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Archaeologists Make 'Very Special' Viking Era Discovery in Norway


Gjellestad, Norway: The site of the discovery
ERICH NAU, NIKU


Almost one thousand years after the end of the Viking Age, Norwegian archaeologists have made a sensational find near Halden in the south-east of Norway. The burial mound and adjacent field harbour several longhouses and at least one ship burial.

Digital data visualizations reveal the well-defined 20-meter-long ship-shaped structure, with indications that the lower part is well preserved. Incredibly, the ship lies just below the topsoil, with just 50cm separating it from the fresh air.

The discovery was made quite by accident when a local farmer wanted to dig ditches to solve an ongoing drainage problem in a boggy field. In previous years trenches in the area had turned up items of interest, so archaeologists from Østfold county decided to try a non-intrusive method of analysis before giving the work the go-ahead.

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Vikings Were Fearless. Except When It Was Too Cold

Aerial view of the Greenland ice sheet from a helicopter.
Credit G. Everett Lasher / Northwestern

Greenland was balmy when the Vikings invaded, a new study based on isotopes in flies has proven, and they left as the glaciers bore down

Vikings evoke many associations, none of which involve relaxing on the seaside and smelling flowers on a balmy evening. The Scandinavian warriors are more usually perceived as being roughnecks in horned helmets who laughed off subzero temperatures. And maybe they did, but a new study by Northwestern University, published this week in Geology, has proven the theory that when the Vikings braved the violent northern seas and conquered Greenland from auks in the 10th century, the island’s climate was less merciless and more Mediterranean.

Also, the Vikings suddenly disappeared from Greenland in the middle of the 15th century, just as the warm snap was ending and the glaciers were sweeping down. A combination of factors seems to have crushed the formerly prosperous settlement, but cold seems to have been key. They could either go native and become horn-helmeted Inuits, or leave. They left.

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Ancient DNA from Viking Graves Proves the Fierce Fighters Rode Male Horses

Modern Icelandic horses are likely descended from the horses that Vikings were buried with, 
more than 1,000 years ago.
Credit: Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Vikings who settled in Iceland more than 1,000 years ago valued their horses so much that the men were buried with their trusty steeds. And DNA analysis of these treasured animals recently proved that the horses consigned to the grave with their manly owners were males, too.
For decades, archaeologists have studied the contents of hundreds of Viking graves in Iceland. Many of these graves also contained the remains of horses that appeared to have been healthy adults when they died.
Because the horses seemed well cared for in life — before they were killed and buried, that is — they were considered to be important to the men whose remains lay nearby. Recently, scientists conducted the first ancient DNA analysis of bones from 19 horses in Viking graves, and found that nearly all of the animals were male, a tantalizing clue about vanished Viking culture
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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Burial sites from 5th and 6th centuries yield unexpected treasures

Some of the artefacts discovered during excavations in Lincolnshire. 
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Archaeologists have uncovered lavish burial sites for women in Lincolnshire from the fifth and sixth centuries, which illustrate how women of the time made themselves resplendent.

Items recovered from the previously unknown Anglo-Saxon cemetery include jewellery made from amber, silver and glass as well as personal grooming items such as tweezers.

Dr Hugh Willmott, senior lecturer in European historical archaeology from Sheffield University and a dig leader, said: “These women wore necklaces made from sometimes hundreds of amber, glass and rock crystal beads, used personal items such as tweezers, carried fabric bags held open by elephant ivory rings, and wore exquisitely decorated brooches to fasten their clothing.

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Archeologists find Viking sword in southern Turkey


Turkish archeologists uncover Viking sword from 9th-10th century in ancient city of Patara

Searching through the ancient city of Patara in Turkey's Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkish archeologists uncovered a sword dating back to over a millennium.

Lead excavator Professor Havva Iskan Isik of Akdeniz University told Anadolu Agency that they identified a Viking sword from the ninth or 10th century.

Isik said they have been carrying out excavation works for 30 years and have discovered important archaeological evidence so far. 

"Finding a Viking sword in a harbor city in the Mediterranean area is of great importance," she said.

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Lincolnshire Anglo-Saxon cemetery burials unearthed

Experts said a "significant proportion of very lavish burials" belonged to women

Burials of richly-dressed women interred with their jewellery and personal items have been unearthed at an Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

About 20 graves dating to the fifth and sixth centuries, including one containing a woman cradling a baby, were found in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The cemetery was discovered after a metal detectorist uncovered artefacts at the site in Scremby, near Skegness.

Experts said there was a "rich array" including necklaces and brooches

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Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Viking city: excavation reveals urban pioneers not violent raiders

Mould carved from soapstone for making ingots and and an axe amulet, both discovered at Ribe. Photograph: Museum of Southwestern Jutland

Excavations in Ribe, Denmark show that Viking culture was based on sophisticated production and trade. Is their brutal reputation unfair?

In an extraordinary moment captured on film this summer, the tuning pegs and neck of a lyre, a harplike stringed instrument, were carefully prised out of the soil of Ribe, a picturesque town on Denmark’s south-west coast. Dated to around AD720, the find was the earliest evidence not just of Viking music, but of a culture that supported instrument-makers and musicians.

The same excavation also found the remains of wooden homes; moulds for fashioning ornaments from gold, silver and brass; intricate combs made from reindeer antlers (the Viking equivalent of ivory); and amber jewellery dating to the early 700s.

Even more extraordinary, however, was the discovery that these artefacts were not for home consumption by farmers, let alone itinerant raiders. Instead, the Vikings who made them lived in a settled, urban community of craftsmen, seafarers, tradesmen and, it seems, musicians.

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